Unfortunately, weight changes in older cats are often attributed merely to aging, so clients may not seek veterinary care or veterinarians may inadvertently delay a diagnostic workup until marked weight loss is evident or additional clinical signs arise. Starting with a detailed history, work your way through a complete workup in these patients.
A 10-year-old 8.6-lb (3.9-kg) spayed female domestic medium-haired cat had been evaluated by the referring veterinarian because of lethargy, right pelvic limb lameness, lumbar discomfort, reluctance to jump, and tail weakness.
When addressing arthritis in cats, we presume similarities to arthritis in dogs, interpreting radiographs and clinical signs with canine differential diagnoses in mind. And we develop therapies based on how dogs are managed. But these presumptions have little scientific basis. In fact, we know little about how many cats have arthritis, what effect their arthritis has on their lifestyles, or to what degree therapy improves their comfort level.
Cats are living longer because of a greater focus on routine healthcare for pets. As their veterinarians, we are challenged with the task of helping these cats live long, high-quality lives. The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Academy of Feline Medicine (AAFP/AFM) Panel Report on Feline Senior Care1 provides a consensus on important goals and recommendations to help you care for senior cats. This article highlights many of the principal points in that report in conjunction with my clinical experience.